- Match Report
- Photos 1
- Photos 2
3-BAT WOMBATS MAKE ENGINEERS CRUMBLE
by Ian Gason
Tokyo Wombats dominated Sunday’s semi final at Shizuoka from the outset, proving that actions speak louder than words, as they claimed a grand final berth with a 7 wicket victory over Biju Paul’s Indian Engineers.
Although the man himself was absent from the contest, Biju’s comments that this, their 4th semi final in 4 years, was “their best chance” proved counter-productive, and about as accurate as Glenn McGrath’s 5-0 call. There was little evidence that they had “worked out” the Wombats “three main (and probably only!) batsmen” and none to show that had done anything to work out the multi-faceted Wombats’ bowling attack.
The Shizuoka Ground looked immaculate, the weather equal to the occasion, and Chuck Jones – as he does – saved his best tossing til when it counts, and invited the Indians to have a bat. The Freak Ray started the mesmerization, with a maiden, a wonderful start.
My opening spell owed more to the wonders of modern pharmacuticals than hard work or talent, as I had spent Thursday and Friday on crutches due a bruised and swollen foot resulting from an over-turning of the pram. There was still a limp pre-game, but once I was in the zone, it was all OK. A schnik from acting captain Viswa got the Wombats’ juggernaut rollicking, 1-0 after 2. Five more dots from The Freak, and another schinko through to The Dinosaur saw the Engineers’ at 2-2 after 4, and me, the walking wounded, lucky to be on the pitch at all, 2-0 after 2. As the Freak continued to weave at the (former) cap-park end, the engineers looked like they needed to borrow my crutches, as they limped through the teens.
They may well have been calling for the stretcher in the 8th over, when batsman Nisar Ahmad survived an extrodanarily confident appeal for the third c. Shearer b. Gason.. The umpire however ruled that the ball had not schnikko-ed a large chunk of wood as it flew to the Dinosaur paws, but had boofed into the pad. The Wombats were dumbstruck, the batsman was eyeing his toes.
This was not Nisar’s first or last piece of fortune. He had already pushed one wide of Hamburger Hill and cut one barely over Bubbles Dawson. As he searched high and low for a partner, he single handedly propped up the Engineers’ innings. He employed a wide range of strokes, and had a particularly powerful backfoot forcing stroke which brought him many a run.
A booming “C’MON WOMMMMMMIES!” rattled off the nearby buildings, announcing the arrival of Wookie and co. That, and two more eskies at the ground fired up the boys, and Bubbles’ first ball brought him amongst the wickets, a c&b off a mistimed hook shot. As the Indians hobbled to 4-50, Nisar enjoyed a life from our gloveman off the bowling of Ankles Kelly. The introduction of the Whyalla Warrior, Paul Shax brought more pain for our foes. Nisar was cutting a lonley figure in the middle as our leading wicket taker moved in on Alex’s record with another 3fa.
Good captaincy brought immediate results when Hamburger Hill was deployed at fly slip. Shax’s second came via Dino as our veteran decieved Warne-ishly with the one (as opposed to?) that goes straight. As Indians tried to consolidate and wrestle the game from our grasp, a bit of fortune sealed Shax’s 3rd.
Ankles Kelly, dressed spiffingly in a pair of borrowed whites 4 sizes to small was perfectly positioned at silly mid-wicket and in the blink of an eye had reached down with his right to take the catch of the day. Wombats were now eyeing off a sub-130 close, when Snappy Tim Whiskas was intoduced. A week previous we had witnessed our Kiwi bro’s capabilities at Dino’s bucks (see ‘Gallery’) and he showed that he was equally quick and entertaining with a cricket ball as with a golf ball. The Freak mesmerizes. The Wharrior bamboozles. The Big Cat stuns.
In the most memorable over since the Zulu/Ray one v Embassy, Whiskas began his day with 1-0, which he later made 2-0. 3 dead-balls in one over must be some kind of record. Once it was literally “blink and you’ll miss it” with the batsman’s woodwork disturbed. Another was called from square-leg as the skip was re-positioning himself, and another caught the umpire, batsmen and several fielders napping. Somewhere in there he grabbed a wicket.
He second brought more joy, when a full toss lobbed harmlessly at the batsman, who obliged by edging it, and after a Bucknor-esque delay the umpire(s) ruled that slow bowlers are allowed to lob full-tosses, and the batsman was on his way. Whiskas went from 2-0 to 2-30 as Nisar, still there, hit lustliy past 100. He had finally found some support from his number 11, who suffered a painful blow to the foot at the other end.
The last pair dragged their total past 150 and to 175, as score which should have been enough for a team who has worked out their opposition so well. The reality was of course a little bit different, but at least their bowlers had something to defend.
When Chuck announced the batting order, I was reminded why The Selangor Club in Kuala Lumpur has a bar, facing the cricket field, which still enforces a rule “No Women. No Children. No Dogs.” My wife’s reaction was “Eee? Ian saisho kara? Shinjiranai!!” 3 overs later I was wishing I was at that bar, after I’d pulled a shot from “Bryon Pickett’s Book Of Responsible Driving” and dragged one back on. 1-7, and the Indians saw a light at the end of their tunnel.
The Captain came to the crease, after picking up some words of advice from his soon-to-be #11, and put his head down to do the job required. He enjoyed ample support from Steve Burke, and the pair accumulated at 4 an over. Chuck raced ahead in the scoring, picking boundaries backward of square, over square, straight down the ground, into the river. Burke had a few of his own until he hit one too high and was gone for 26. Such was the tunnel vision on the Indians’ planning department, that with 20-plus overs, 8-wickets in hand and 90 needed, the Indian captain greeted Burkey’s dismissal, with “That’s it! We’ve WON the game!”
I guess they figured that “once two of them are taken care of, the rest will crumble.” Meet Tim Whiskas. Ignoring our West Aussies advise to shelf the cut, which had undone a handful of Indians, our Kiwi played some delighful cuts which flew off the bat and sped along to the river. The Jones-Whiskas partnership was as bountiful as it was beautiful, and most of their shots deserved Richie Beanuad’s “If there’s any kids watching at home” accolade. By the time Snappy Tim had skied one in the deep, Wombats were eyeing off the eskies, needing a couple of dozen runs in 10 overs.
Fiittingly, the Club’s Gibraltars, Jarrad and Chuck, were there at the end. Chuck’s dominance of the Indian bowling was akin to Wayne Carey’s school footy matches. They had no answer. Chuck sealed the victory with huge one-legger over mid-wicket, which he simply stood back and admired.
Dignifed hand-shakes were abandoned with Ankles’ suggestion of a Club Stax-On-The-Skip. Ater the pitch was put away, the two teams joined for the presentaions. Nisar was clearly Indians Best. Ankles Kelly beat a pack of contenders, including Etsuko’s cousin and her cowboy boots, for the day’s highlight. Ritsuko Jones will be sniffing out her husband kit bag for another bottle of Hardys for another match winner performance. His 86 not out is his highest score for the Club, and Smoking Pete should be thinking of special disocunts for the Wombats’ bowlers. Twice in two games a rampaging batsman has been denied a century by the small total they’ve had to chase.
Things just got better then for the Wommies, as local man Yoshida-san was firing up the BBQ. The Shizuoka boys helped us get through 4 cases of beer. I was out there fleecing everyone for the ICC Double. A beautiful summer’s evening lingered past sun-down as an 18-Wombat contigent tucked into the barbie and the booze.
In the van an unprecedented double round of highlights. At Ashigara piss-stop a bunch of try hard wankstains on 250s pretended to be bikers, only to be upstage by two chicks on 2 wheels. Chuck must have been ready for another toss when Biker Chuck #1 made her engine sing for him, even when he was rubbing his famous arse against her front wheel. We threw Wookie in the van (13 in a 10-seater) and the trusty Toyota was dragging as low as a Latino’s Pinto.
Farewelling the Big Man with a round of “Wookie Highlights” was followed by Wookie’s Highlights, and then topped off with everybody throwing in their “Dinosaur Highlights” as it’ll be a new man behind the stumps next game! At the toll-both we passed the Wooksta back to the 2nd car, and maybe it was the smoke from the BBQ (or the JD?) but was that a tear in the Big Man’s eye?
Appropriately, the man who made the Golden Thong possible left his king-kongs in the van, and was last seen wandering the streets of Shinjuku barefoot, like he was at the barbie or his beloved Kangaroo Island.
Thanks to The Indians for the game, and to the officials Robert and Anton. Also thanks to the Shizuoka boys for getting the ground looking so good. Again thanks to Shizuoka and Paddy Foleys who agreed to shelve their practise game and allow the game to be played.